Want to know how to wreck your closest relationship?
Don't grow up emotionally.
If you're not going to grow up, you will wreck your closest, most intimate relationships including your marriage. It's a guarantee. In professional couple's counseling, when one partner says, "I feel like I have an extra child because I am married to this person," it's likely that the other partner has failed to grow up emotionally. You'd be surprised to know how many highly successful adults in the business and professional world are emotional infants. Emotionally immature people
- look for others to take care of them,
- take disagreements personally,
- are only happy when things go their way and
- quickly unravel when disappointment, stress or tragedy enter the picture.
When emotionally immature people don't get their way they often
- drag their feet,
- become sarcastic,
- keep score and take revenge
Be a critical, fault-finding person.
In order to thoroughly wreck your marriage relationship or intimate partnership, be someone who looks at their own faults through a telescope but everyone else's with a microscope. Critical people focus on the failures of others, are self-righteous and highly defensive when criticized themselves. Criticism is so destructive to a couple. It focuses on blame, accusation and personal attacks on the other person.
Critical people are tough to be connected to because they have a huge need to maintain control -- they need things to be their way. Fault finders may be able to stutter an occasional "I'm sorry" to their marriage partner, but they find it difficult to take the next essential step and actually yield their rights to another by asking forgiveness for their actions. For the person on the receiving end, life with a critical, fault-finding person can be overwhelming.
Want to save your relationship?
Grow up already!
Emotionally mature people can love others without expecting them to change. They don't expect anyone to be perfect in meeting their needs and when under stress they don't fall into a victim mentality or the blame game. These folks are a pleasure to be around.
- They respect and love others without becoming critical and judgmental.
- They are convinced that they are lovable and they have nothing to prove.
- These people have made peace with their past.
- They have the ability to place the needs of others on a stage and can shine a spotlight on someone else without feeling personally threatened or ignored.
When you mature emotionally, you stop being competitive with your spouse and start instead to collaborate for the greater good. You also learn to put your mate first and lift them up to be who they were meant to be. In the truest sense, you become your partner's biggest fan. Fundamentally, to grow up means you become "good medicine" to other people.
Learn how to forgive.
Bitterness is not your friend if you want to help your marriage. Many relationships have been saved when one or both of the partners decide to stop keeping a list of wrongs against the other. They have come to understand what Loren Fischer meant when he said, "The difference between holding on to a hurt or releasing it with forgiveness is like the difference between laying your head down on a pillow filled with thorns or a pillow filled with rose petals."
Forgiveness is contextual and is really about being good to yourself and not allowing another person's actions to control your life or your thoughts. Choosing to forgive means YOU get to lay your head on rose petals. Now let me tell you what forgiveness is not:
- Forgiveness is not forgetting.
- Forgiveness is not condoning.
- Forgiveness does not always mean reconciliation.
People who refuse to forgive like to hold on to grudges; it helps them to feel superior to others. Incessantly superior people are really tough to be married to. If you want to save your relationship, learn how to let go of the thorns.
In Part 2, learn how to quickly ruin your relationship just by being this. Hint: It's an all-too common problem in modern relationships.
by Cindy Finch, LICSW with Gary Brink, D.Min.